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Monday, April 25, 2016

Choosing delegates with citizen participation

Donald Trump has now put the focus of his campaign on attacking the fundamental nature of the nomination process within our political parties

Choosing delegates with citizen participation


One of the most pressing issues facing our nation - dealing with an out-of-control central government - has been essentially placed on hold during this election campaign. Traditionally a core issue in Republican politics, the candidates for Republican presidential nominee, particularly the final three, have had no opportunity to debate this issue.
And even major campaign issues such as national security, that have been discussed and debated, have been set aside in the last couple of weeks so we can debate democracy in the delegate selection process of party politics. This issue was raised by Donald Trump after the Ted Cruz campaign won all the delegates in the Colorado caucuses. To clarify, in its usage here, what is being debated is not “democracy,” rather it is “citizen participation in the delegate process,” or the lack of it.
Having secured his hold on those who accept that electing him is the answer, and the only answer, to what he calls “making America great again,” Donald Trump has now put the focus of his campaign on attacking the fundamental nature of the nomination process within our political parties.
The reason, first and foremost, that it became an issue, was not that there was an actual injustice going on that warranted attention, it was because the leading Republican candidate did not see working on the grassroots level, where faithful delegates are earned, as an issue that merited any of his time and very little of his surrogates’ time, and now he is playing catch-up.
While the assertion is that citizen participation is being denied in the caucus process, the opposite is actually occurring. The nomination process, going from precinct up to district then to state and finally the candidate-deciding national convention, is one of the best examples of citizen participation in modern-day politics. In fact, it is an intensive citizen-participatory process.
What political parties are seeking in this process is not simply to see which candidate is the most popular at one point in time, but to send delegates to a convention that may require several ballots before a majority of delegates decide on one candidate. Once a convention goes to a second ballot, the original primary election in the state no longer serves a purpose. Because to bring a majority (which is the closest thing to a consensus here) into agreement, some or many of the delegates have to change their original vote to another candidate.
This is a time-held process, and one on which Donald Trump’s campaign has stumbled coming out of the starting gate. So with the horse race having turned the corner and heading down the backstretch, the jockey has run over to the judges to tell them the race is fixed.
Here we see the Trump campaign, instead of redoubling their efforts to involve themselves in the delegate process, going into the stands at the racetrack to whip the ever faithful into a mindless frenzy with charges of cheating and dirty tricks. The fundamental process of the race is corrupt, they assert, and must be changed before the horses get to the finish line.
Charges of stealing or invalidating elections or dirty tricks in winning delegates’ allegiance are made against Cruz in any of the states where the Trump campaign didn’t take seriously the need to work through the convention process and earn delegates. This is a process that winning candidates have needed to participate in since political parties have been in existence in this nation.
And if it was turned around, I’m sure Trump would be crying “Foul!” if Cruz said the Republican National Committee (RNC) should let him win with a plurality.
The debate on this issue was the focus Saturday, April 23 during the Fox News program “Fox and Friends Saturday” when Dana Perino, who served as George W. Bush’s White House Press Secretary during part of his administration, was “on the couch” with the show hosts.
They showed a clip of Reince Priebus, the Chairman of the RNC, saying, “The rules say you have to have 1237 delegates to be the nominee. We aren’t going to hand the nomination to anyone with a plurality, no matter how close they get to 1237. You need a majority.”
Then Tucker Carlson, a regular host on the Fox and Friends weekend shows then said: “So does he mean this? Do you think the GOP is willing and planning to give the nomination to someone who didn’t get the most votes if nobody gets the majority?”
Perino replied, “I think he is saying what the rules are. The rules are 1237 and everybody has known that, and if you don’t hit 1237 it will go to a second ballot. And if that’s the case, then everybody knew the rules. I don’t think it’s fair to anybody to change the rules at this point.”
“Now, public pressure is going to be intense. It’s like ‘Well what do you mean? Like if you get to 1236 you’re not going to give it?’
“Now there’s a school of thought that says, ‘Of course you’re going to give it to them at that point.’
“There’s another school of thought that says, ‘We play by the rules. You have to get to 1237.’ And if you didn’t, you had to have a delegate strategy.”
There it is, my friends, you have to have a delegate strategy. For whatever reason, the Trump campaign either failed at implementing a delegate strategy or never really had one. But with the inevitability of a Trump majority in question, it is now absolutely necessary. And they’re getting pounded as they try to fashion a successful strategy.
As to the argument that there are other elections where a plurality wins, there are also plenty of examples where to be elected it requires a majority, 50% plus one. The one thing in common with both of those types of elections (plurality and majority) is that everybody went into the election process with the rules established. So the argument that some elections require a plurality is not a compelling reason to change the rules in the middle of the game.
It’s also important to understand that choosing a nominee for a political party involves a lot more than just a vote at the polls. Another part of the process involves maintaining a brand with a clearly defined identity. To modify the identity requires going through a very specific process.
So while a mass revolt of its members can change it, they have to change it through the process. The last time this sort of mass revolt succeeded in the Republican Party was with the “Reagan revolution” that culminated in the election of Ronald Reagan as President in 1980.
From the early 1960’s, there had developed a clearly defined conservative movement that raised up a leader committed to that movement - Ronald Reagan. His clear-cut conservative credentials were established during his two terms as Governor of California. People knew exactly what they were getting politically when they decided on Reagan as a presidential nominee in 1976 and in 1980. He had a cause, if you will, and a movement of people committed to that cause. Today’s Republican Party platform is still essentially the party platform as it was formed in the Reagan years.
Donald Trump entered the campaign as a charismatic media manipulator who created a broad base of support by being able to channel people’s anger with Obama’s leftist administration and its impotent foreign policy. He chose as his philosophy to present himself as a conservative Christian Republican, even though he would have to learn that philosophy as the campaign progressed.
He has been riding on a movement of self, so the framework necessary to change the party structure, as the Reagan Revolution did, is not there. There was no framework in his campaign to make it a movement that could succeed at storming the Republican establishment, because there was no overriding political philosophy other than the amorphous Make America Great philosophy.
Now it may be too late for him to be fashioned into the “presidential” candidate needed to win the general election. To do that, he has to say that the Donald everyone sees in the campaign was just a facade and the “real” Donald is…well, it looks like that still has to be defined by his new campaign chief.
In the meantime, the Ted Cruz and John Kasich campaigns made a change-of-strategy announcement late last night (Sunday, April 24) that, if successful, will prevent Donald Trump from winning a first ballot nomination at the national convention:
“In a pair of simultaneously released statements, the campaigns announced that Kasich would pull out of Indiana to give Cruz ‘a clear path’ ahead of that state’s winner-take-all primary May 3, while the Cruz campaign will ‘clear the path’ for Kasich in Oregon, which votes May 17, and New Mexico, which votes June 7.

Donald Trump has now put the focus of his campaign on attacking the fundamental nature of the nomination process within our political parties

Choosing delegates with citizen participation


One of the most pressing issues facing our nation - dealing with an out-of-control central government - has been essentially placed on hold during this election campaign. Traditionally a core issue in Republican politics, the candidates for Republican presidential nominee, particularly the final three, have had no opportunity to debate this issue.
And even major campaign issues such as national security, that have been discussed and debated, have been set aside in the last couple of weeks so we can debate democracy in the delegate selection process of party politics. This issue was raised by Donald Trump after the Ted Cruz campaign won all the delegates in the Colorado caucuses. To clarify, in its usage here, what is being debated is not “democracy,” rather it is “citizen participation in the delegate process,” or the lack of it.
Having secured his hold on those who accept that electing him is the answer, and the only answer, to what he calls “making America great again,” Donald Trump has now put the focus of his campaign on attacking the fundamental nature of the nomination process within our political parties.
The reason, first and foremost, that it became an issue, was not that there was an actual injustice going on that warranted attention, it was because the leading Republican candidate did not see working on the grassroots level, where faithful delegates are earned, as an issue that merited any of his time and very little of his surrogates’ time, and now he is playing catch-up.
While the assertion is that citizen participation is being denied in the caucus process, the opposite is actually occurring. The nomination process, going from precinct up to district then to state and finally the candidate-deciding national convention, is one of the best examples of citizen participation in modern-day politics. In fact, it is an intensive citizen-participatory process.
What political parties are seeking in this process is not simply to see which candidate is the most popular at one point in time, but to send delegates to a convention that may require several ballots before a majority of delegates decide on one candidate. Once a convention goes to a second ballot, the original primary election in the state no longer serves a purpose. Because to bring a majority (which is the closest thing to a consensus here) into agreement, some or many of the delegates have to change their original vote to another candidate.
This is a time-held process, and one on which Donald Trump’s campaign has stumbled coming out of the starting gate. So with the horse race having turned the corner and heading down the backstretch, the jockey has run over to the judges to tell them the race is fixed.
Here we see the Trump campaign, instead of redoubling their efforts to involve themselves in the delegate process, going into the stands at the racetrack to whip the ever faithful into a mindless frenzy with charges of cheating and dirty tricks. The fundamental process of the race is corrupt, they assert, and must be changed before the horses get to the finish line.
Charges of stealing or invalidating elections or dirty tricks in winning delegates’ allegiance are made against Cruz in any of the states where the Trump campaign didn’t take seriously the need to work through the convention process and earn delegates. This is a process that winning candidates have needed to participate in since political parties have been in existence in this nation.
And if it was turned around, I’m sure Trump would be crying “Foul!” if Cruz said the Republican National Committee (RNC) should let him win with a plurality.
The debate on this issue was the focus Saturday, April 23 during the Fox News program “Fox and Friends Saturday” when Dana Perino, who served as George W. Bush’s White House Press Secretary during part of his administration, was “on the couch” with the show hosts.
They showed a clip of Reince Priebus, the Chairman of the RNC, saying, “The rules say you have to have 1237 delegates to be the nominee. We aren’t going to hand the nomination to anyone with a plurality, no matter how close they get to 1237. You need a majority.”
Then Tucker Carlson, a regular host on the Fox and Friends weekend shows then said: “So does he mean this? Do you think the GOP is willing and planning to give the nomination to someone who didn’t get the most votes if nobody gets the majority?”
Perino replied, “I think he is saying what the rules are. The rules are 1237 and everybody has known that, and if you don’t hit 1237 it will go to a second ballot. And if that’s the case, then everybody knew the rules. I don’t think it’s fair to anybody to change the rules at this point.”
“Now, public pressure is going to be intense. It’s like ‘Well what do you mean? Like if you get to 1236 you’re not going to give it?’
“Now there’s a school of thought that says, ‘Of course you’re going to give it to them at that point.’
“There’s another school of thought that says, ‘We play by the rules. You have to get to 1237.’ And if you didn’t, you had to have a delegate strategy.”
There it is, my friends, you have to have a delegate strategy. For whatever reason, the Trump campaign either failed at implementing a delegate strategy or never really had one. But with the inevitability of a Trump majority in question, it is now absolutely necessary. And they’re getting pounded as they try to fashion a successful strategy.
As to the argument that there are other elections where a plurality wins, there are also plenty of examples where to be elected it requires a majority, 50% plus one. The one thing in common with both of those types of elections (plurality and majority) is that everybody went into the election process with the rules established. So the argument that some elections require a plurality is not a compelling reason to change the rules in the middle of the game.
It’s also important to understand that choosing a nominee for a political party involves a lot more than just a vote at the polls. Another part of the process involves maintaining a brand with a clearly defined identity. To modify the identity requires going through a very specific process.
So while a mass revolt of its members can change it, they have to change it through the process. The last time this sort of mass revolt succeeded in the Republican Party was with the “Reagan revolution” that culminated in the election of Ronald Reagan as President in 1980.
From the early 1960’s, there had developed a clearly defined conservative movement that raised up a leader committed to that movement - Ronald Reagan. His clear-cut conservative credentials were established during his two terms as Governor of California. People knew exactly what they were getting politically when they decided on Reagan as a presidential nominee in 1976 and in 1980. He had a cause, if you will, and a movement of people committed to that cause. Today’s Republican Party platform is still essentially the party platform as it was formed in the Reagan years.
Donald Trump entered the campaign as a charismatic media manipulator who created a broad base of support by being able to channel people’s anger with Obama’s leftist administration and its impotent foreign policy. He chose as his philosophy to present himself as a conservative Christian Republican, even though he would have to learn that philosophy as the campaign progressed.
He has been riding on a movement of self, so the framework necessary to change the party structure, as the Reagan Revolution did, is not there. There was no framework in his campaign to make it a movement that could succeed at storming the Republican establishment, because there was no overriding political philosophy other than the amorphous Make America Great philosophy.
Now it may be too late for him to be fashioned into the “presidential” candidate needed to win the general election. To do that, he has to say that the Donald everyone sees in the campaign was just a facade and the “real” Donald is…well, it looks like that still has to be defined by his new campaign chief.
In the meantime, the Ted Cruz and John Kasich campaigns made a change-of-strategy announcement late last night (Sunday, April 24) that, if successful, will prevent Donald Trump from winning a first ballot nomination at the national convention:
“In a pair of simultaneously released statements, the campaigns announced that Kasich would pull out of Indiana to give Cruz ‘a clear path’ ahead of that state’s winner-take-all primary May 3, while the Cruz campaign will ‘clear the path’ for Kasich in Oregon, which votes May 17, and New Mexico, which votes June 7.


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